A unique feature of TORONTO neighbourhoods are its cinemas. One of them, The REGENT on Mount Pleasant Road, is now facing an uncertain future.
Opened in 1927 as the BELSIZE, it became The CREST in 1953, and in 1971 the REGENT.
The CREST Theatre Company was founded in 1953, and a year later opened its first eleven-play season. This was the beginning of indigenous, commercial theatre in TORONTO. Up until then there had been mostly touring productions from the West End and the US.
Many of TORONTO’s (and Canada’s) best-known actors and actresses performed at The Crest. These included Kate Reid, Richard Monette, Jackie Burroughs, Frances Hyland, Eric House and Martha Henry. Most went on to Stratford, the Shaw, television and movie careers.
Among the directors – Douglas Campbell, Barry Morse, Mavor Moore, Leon Major, John Hirsch, Herbert Whittaker and Allan Lund.
The CREST closed its doors on April 30, 1966 after mounting 140 productions. This was the beginning of commercially viable home-grown theatre in TORONTO. Soon after, the Crest became the Regent, and began showing movies. Recently it functioned as a sound mixing studio by day, and a cinema at night.
The building is now up-for-sale, and hopes are to raise the funds to keep it as a theatre. TORONTO neighbourhoods have managed this before. The Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Avenue is a good example.
An extensive archive on the historical Crest Theatre and its company can be found at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street.